Don L. Sparks

Don L. Sparks

B.S.P.E., 1962
Chairman, Discovery Operating Inc.

Don Sparks founded a small, successful independent oil company that operates 280 wells in the Midland, Texas, area.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1962. After briefly working for Shell Oil Co. in Midland, he entered the U.S. Navy that year. He rejoined Shell Oil in 1965 as an exploitation engineer for oil fields in West Texas, eventually becoming a reservoir engineer there.

His management skills became essential when he joined Freeport Oil Co. to oversee their drilling, completion and production operations west of the Mississippi River. Two years later, he returned to Midland to open a private consulting business and co-found Discovery Operating Inc.

He currently is chairman of the board for the oil company, which also involves his wife, Gwyndolyn, and their three children. The company’s 280 wells daily produce about 1,500 barrels of crude oil and condensate, and about 10 million cubic feet of gas. In 1980, Sparks merged his petroleum engineering consulting business with an Austin colleague’s business to form Platt, Sparks & Associates Consulting Petroleum Engineers, Inc.  The company evaluates properties, performs reservoir studies, provides expert testimony and other consultations in Midland and Austin.

Sparks is actively involved in energy-related associations, including serving as vice president for four years of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA). He has received the association’s Leadership Award and Membership Hall of Fame Award, among other honors. For his focus on his Midland community and professional accomplishments, Sparks has also received the Hearst Energy Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Outstanding Philanthropic Family award from the regional chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

His community support has included hosting a gathering for Midland area students to interest them in attending The University of Texas at Austin. In addition, he served for three years on the external advisory committee of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, and continues to support College scholarships through Friends of Alec. Two of his children have earned bachelor’s degrees from the university, and one of his grandsons is pursuing a petroleum engineering degree here.

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